Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: I was on the right track and doing something real

The world of business is vast, powerful, ever changing and fascinating. Join the business world and you will be utterly absorbed by it without a second to spare for  yourself.  Your head will become a whirl pool of telephone numbers, fax­ messages, prices, deals, percentages, production volumes and delivery dates. So during the rare hours of rest, you look at the world around you with surprise as though seeing it for the first time. So there is another life where people are not always in a hurry, but can go for walks or see a movie! You are transported back to the city of your childhood, contemplating something long forgotten. Then you remember that you once lived like this too. However, somewhere inside you, a bell starts ringing in alarm. Your internal clock is ticking away the seconds, and your heart thrills with excitement at a new beginning, while your soul thirsts for battle. So you again plunge into the world of figures, bank accounts, letters of credit and stock-exchange shares.


Some time ago I happened to read the biography of a multimillionaire. According to the author "He was one of the most successful businessmen. He only went bankrupt three times in his life."

I recalled those words every time I found myself cast down. At such moments I would say to myself Cheer Lip, Kirsan! Things are not as bad as they look. What is there to worry about if even that most fortunate and talented of businessmen found himself out on a limb several times? It is no use complaining about your lot. Don't worry! Forget about it! Stop pitying yourself and nursing your wounds. The strong shouldn't behave this way. If you stop in your tracks you are as good as dead.
And again, just as in childhood, I raced ahead across bumps and hollows, collecting bruises and injuries along the way, but never contemplating the losses and damage. I was protected by fate and I came to trust in it.
I was always pressed for time. But even when I was utterly exhausted and my eyes had grown swollen from lack of sleep, my brain would continue to whir. I even balanced figures in sleep, as my mind sifted through recent events, extracting the key nub of information from a conversation or meeting, and making a game plan for the next day.
The next morning I would wake up with several decisions ready made. However, most often I would have to make decisions on the spot. Sometimes that decision might effect the future of the company with whom Liko-Raduga was making a deal, as well as the destiny of the tens of hundreds of people who were linked to that firm. The situation changed daily, even hourly, and you were crushed if you responded slowly to events. It was a big war of nerves, intelligence, experience, foresight and, to some extent, luck.  An  intuitive feel for business - the sense of timing which tells you when to strike, the flair for accumulating information and making spontaneous risk assessments - does not come immediately, but is gradually acquired. More often than not, you are unable to assess a situation objectively and your intuitive sense proves to be a finer barometer than logic. It is as inexplicable as the instinct for danger and discomfort.
In themselves money and material possessions are worthless. They  are only important because we imbue them with value. This is why big companies invest nearly a third of their profits in advertising. You have to make people believe that they need your product, to overcome the customer's inner resistance and make them buy whatever you are selling.
But where does the admissible barrier lie? Is it ethical to intrude on an individual's consciousness? Ours is an aggressive environment. Politics, newspapers, television, art, all have an effect on us, breaking our will, changing it, or subjugating it to their influence. How can one tell good from evil in a situation where everything is mixed up and confused? Pondering over this issue, I kept coming to the conclusion that a new universal code of moral business practices was needed.
You cannot stop progress any more than you can stop life itself. Nevertheless, it is necessary to raise morality to the level of science and technology. Or we do not make them commensurate, we will perish.
Every minute hundreds of millions of deals are being concluded all over the world and business people are taking different decisions. Due to the energy, intuition and efforts of these people the enormous and complex machine of world economics operates.
No, I had no regrets about taking up business rather than becoming a diplomat. My rather infrequent meetings with my former fellow-students made me all the more convinced that I was on the right track and doing something real.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov

The President's Crown of Thorns, 1995